Prosecution, defense rest in Ronald Robinson trial

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Both the prosecution and defense have rested in the double homicide case against the man accused of killing Penn Hills police Officer Michael Crawshaw.

Deputy District Attorney Mark V. Tranquilli rested his case on the sixth day of trial after calling three dozen witnesses against Ronald Robinson.

Robinson is accused of killing Danyal Morton, 40, over a $500 drug debt inside his home at 201 Johnston Road in Penn Hills on Dec. 6, 2009.

Officer Crawshaw, 32, was killed as Robinson fled the scene.

Robinson's defense attorney, Veronica Brestensky, conceded during opening statements her client killed both men.

She argued that he should be found guilty of second-degree murder, and not first-degree, which could carry a possible death sentence.

Immediately after the prosecution rested, Ms. Brestensky did the same, calling no witnesses on her client's behalf.

Closing arguments in the case will be heard Monday morning.

It wasn't until Robinson heard his mother's voice in a recorded interview she gave police that he would admit that he shot and killed the officer and Mr. Morton.

In the early morning hours of Dec. 7, 2009, Robinson told police he had been with his girlfriend the entire previous day, including when Officer Crawshaw and Mr. Morton were killed on Johnston Road.

Former Allegheny County homicide Detective Terry Hediger testified in the sixth day of Robinson's trial that the statement from Rosetta Robinson changed the course of the interview.

"'Don't make your mother take the stand and testify to this,'" the detectives told the defendant. "'Own up to this. We can tell the judge and the jury what happened. Don't make your mother do it.'"

"He shook his head in disbelief," Mr. Hediger said. "He didn't think we had a statement."

They played a portion of it for Robinson, and he said, "'That's enough. I heard enough. You can turn it off.'"

The detectives thought Robinson was poised to confess then, but it took more than 25 more minutes, and him starting and stopping at least 10 times before Robinson told his story.

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Paula Reed Ward: or 412-263-2620.


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